[Milton-L] 'nude, not naked' -- really?

jfleming at sfu.ca jfleming at sfu.ca
Tue Nov 22 21:05:23 EST 2005


It seems to me that the concept of "innocent sexuality" -- with its
presumption that "innocent" can or needs to attach to "sexuality" -- is
precisely fallen. Thus the point of prefallen sex in _PL_ is not that it is
innocent or not, but that the innocent/not-innocent binary does not apply.
Thus "sweet reluctant amorous delay" (4.311); naked breasts meeting
half-hidden (4.492-497); the sun mounted in nature's womb (5.300-302); Adam
licked dry by the same sun, relieved of the "balmy sweat" that so horrifies
Geoffrey Hartmann (8.253-256)-- and that wd have horrified him even more if
he had remembered, via Marvell's "morning glue," the period homology with
both dew and semen; thus the identity, rather than the distinction, of
"Seized" (4.489) and "seized" (9.1037). The briefest and completest way to
think about this matter, accordingly, is that it is perfectly innocent not
to be innocent in Milton's paradise. Thinking it through in terms of the
fallen analogues, pornography is (arguably) a truer index than
anti-pornography to what unfallen sex, in M's vision, is and possesses.
Arguably. JD Fleming

On Tue, 22 Nov 2005 21:37:57 -0500 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> Somewhere, somebody is innocent.  I was, once.  There's a photograph
> of me as Cupid, at the age of about two, fully frontal nude, and I was 
> of course completely unaware that I was funny, or a boy, or a subject
> for pedophilia.  I would still like to believe that there are innocent 
> people and that there is innocent love.
> 
> It is true that I have not seen innocence or innocent sexuality shown
> well in movies.  Some movies that I think have been successful in
> showing innocence or innocent love in one form or another have been
> Dear John (Swedish, 1964) and Babette's Feast (1987).  Since Elvira
> Madigan is a story of adultery, it doesn't qualify, even if Mozart's
> piano concerto seems innocent.  For innocent nudity, see Manon the Spring.
> 
> I had a discussion about whether Paradise Lost could be staged, with
> the wonderful stage director Jonathan Miller, and, though he is
> certainly not prudish, the issue of presenting nudity without shame or 
> heat puzzled him to the point where he did not pursue the project.
> There is a movie, not at all good, by Mike Figgis, called The Loss of
> Sexual Innocence (1999); it depicts Adam and Eve as black man and
> white woman arising out of water, but they look mildly embarrassed,
> examining each other as if playing Doctor.  There is a bower and a
> snake, and a sex scene after the Fall, but none of it is very convincing.
> 
> Roy Flannagan
> 
> >>> rastrier at uchicago.edu 11/22/05 12:21 PM >>>
> Yes, we are lewd viewers.  That's what being fallen means.  In 
> concept, we can distinguish before and after, but not in experience. 
> Watching unfallen sex would be just as hot, if not hotter, than 
> watching unfallen sex.  As would watching a nude picnic.  We would be 
> kidding ourselves not to acknowledge this, and failing to take into 
> account what being fallen means-- that's the "something."  Who are we 
> kidding about "innocent nudity"?  In idea, yes.  In reality, no. 
> Roger Scruton recently tried to argue that great art can't really be 
> erotic.  What nonsense.
> 
> The Graves poem seems quite complex and tricky to me.  To think that 
> it "resolves" the issue seems to me a bad reading of that nice 
> (though very minor and not very serious) poem.
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James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English,
Simon Fraser University,
(604) 291-4713

Laissez parler les faits.


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